Blog Post #1 — Murakhovsky, Alexandra

Our preconceived memories may sometimes be molded by past capabilities of a certain person or experience was. [This is a summary. Identify which elements of the rhetorical triangle the authors use and detail below.]

[Analyze rather than summarize. How do the authors use the rhetorical triangle to convince the reader and how do they support their arguments?] Journalists, Chabris and Simons, described earnestly to their readers that our memories may not be what we think they are, and that even a highly educated astrophysicist may slip up in the memory department every now and again. Playing to the rational appeal [What did the authors use in their appeal to logos?] of their audience, Chabris and Simons described a time when Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson falsely remembered a speech that former President Bush had given after the 9/11 terrorists attacks, implying that Mr. Bush was prejudice against Islam and wasn’t accurately remembering scientific facts when it came to astronomy. Instead, these two inferences were from two very separate occasions, as well as falsely quoted from the speeches themselves. To rely solely on ones memory instead of checking the facts is dangerous, especially as a public figure like Dr. Tyson.

[Analyze rather than summarize.] For most public figures, the simplest way to avoid anymore backlash and scrutiny is to apologize and eventually move on from the mistake, something that Dr. Tyson did. The bigger picture from his memory lapse was that Dr. Tyson’s credibility as a scientist and public advocate was called into question. This mistake was a huge blow in the science community and for people who come to Dr. Tyson as a reliable source of information from his memory.

[How do the commenters use the rhetorical triangle to make their points?] Unfortunately for a lot of individuals, we tend to associate what we think of a person directly to what we may or may not remember them saying. As one top commenter in the Readers’ Picks section pointed out (Keith Dow), Mr. Bush hasn’t always brought his point across eloquently. From that simple association of linking goofy slip-ups said by the former President of the United States, it’s clear to why Dr. Tyson automatically retrieved a false memory of Mr. Bush failing to quote an accurate astronomy fact.

As I reviewed the comments, I read that many readers did have a strong emotional pull [use of pathos] to the article, contrary to where I found the writing informative and interesting with the provided facts. The authors were able to pull up direct quotes from where Dr. Tyson failed to do so, as well as recorded years and events. The article was precise to what the journalists were attempting to convey [They are psychology professors, not journalists.], even bringing up another example of a memory lapse, or just a lie that may have stretched much further from the truth, in Hillary Clinton’s situation.

What I found most interesting in the top three picks in the Readers’ Picks section was that the top two provided links, facts and quotes and the other pick was an honest opinion as he was able to relate to the situation instead of claiming that our memory does not ever fail us. I related most closely to the NYT top pick [Analyze rather than express personal opinion.] comment by Peter C. about how our memory can convince us into thinking something completely different than what we’re actually witnessing right in front of our very eyes, like watching a movie but our memory convincing us it’s the wrong order. Chabris and Simons so effortlessly explained what many people irrationally overreact to, “Ordinary memory failures say nothing about a person’s honesty of competence. But how we respond to these events can be telling.”


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